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June 27, 2009

Jun 28-Jul 4:

Defining moments of living with a Sinhala Buddhist 'guilt'

by Kusal Perera

"What is the procedure in sending relief stuff to the IDP camps ?" asked a friend one morning. "My daughter is helping some group to collect stuff for those people" he added. [TC]

I.D.P Camps in Manik Farm: An eye-witness account

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

The conditions prevailing at the Internally displaced person (IDP)camps in Vavuniya and Chettykulam are far from satisfactory.

Many of those who serve or have served as volunteers in these camps are upset over the continuing humanitarian tragedy .

It is widely acknowledged that the authorities are making sincere efforts to improve conditions as far as possible. [dbsj]

‘Camp system is all too clearly the latest stage of genocide’

By Martin Shaw

What kind of violence has the Sri Lankan state been committing against its Tamil civilian population as the island‘s civil war ended; on what scale and with what intentions? Martin Shaw explores the difficult terrain where war, atrocity and genocide meet. [TC]

“Tamil people must be allowed to live in peace and flourish in their homeland.” – Elie Wiesel

The Following statement re: “Tamil People” was issued today by The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity: [TC]

Sri Lanka’s Judiciary: Politicised Courts, Compromised Rights

By International Crisis Group

Sri Lanka’s judiciary is failing to protect constitutional and human rights. Rather than assuaging conflict, the courts have corroded the rule of law and worsened ethnic tensions. [TC]

A Two - Day Trip to the I.D.P. Camps in Vavuniya and Chettikulam

by Kath Noble

We are constantly told that restrictions on access to IDP camps prove that awful things are happening. If the situation were under control, this hypothesis goes, the Government would allow people to go and see for themselves. [TC]

Rains raise fears of malaria setback in camps

Reported by IRIN News

Health experts warn that the arrival of monsoon rains in July could increase the risk of waterborne diseases for tens of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in camps in northern Sri Lanka. [TC]

Around the World, Young Tamil Voices Not Quieted By War's End

By Veronica Zaragovia

Sri Lanka's 26 years of civil war effectively ended on May 19, 2009 with a single image. Televisions across the globe broadcast a government-issue photo of slain Tamil Tiger head, Velupillai Prabhakaran, lying on a muddy patch of ground with wide eyes and a fractured skull. [TC]

Human Rights Leadership Coalition writes President Obama Urging Action on Sri Lanka

Several prominent human rights organizations have expressed their deep concern over the dire human rights and humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka in a joint letter to President Barack Obama: [TC]

The I.D.P. Experience: Do I know what it means?

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

The troubles and travails faced by the displaced civilian population of the Northern mainland, Wanni is indeed a tragedy of our times.

I have in the past written extensively about the Wanni civilians who lived in tiger-controlled territory and described them as the wretched of the Wanni earth.

These people are now uprooted from their homes and compelled to live as “Internally Displaced Persons” in various camps described as welfare centers. [dbsj]

What does the future hold for Sri Lanka and all its citizens?

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

Can the Tamils Seize a new opportunity” ? was the heading given by Ajith Ratnarajah to his well-written piece on the future of Tamils in Sri Lanka.

Though lengthy the post evoked a lot of constructive discussion and debate on this blog. [dbsj]

Starting Point of Realistic Reform is Implementation of the 13th Amendment

by Dayan Jayatilleka

We have a once –in-generations chance to re-found Sri Lanka, to build Sri Lanka anew. To do so, we must be both hard and soft; and vigilant as hawks and as conciliatory as doves. [TC]

'Sustained double-digit economic growth needed by all in Sri Lanka'

Lanka Business Online, The web based business portal based in Colombo in an “Ideas” article published today is calling for bold moves to revitalize Sri Lanka’s economy, for the betterment of all.

And it has called to enact Sri Lanka’s North and the East as special economic zones: [TC]

'Normality in northern Sri Lanka is still a very long way away'

by Charles Haviland

It is just over a month since Asia's longest civil war in modern times came to an end, with the Sri Lankan government's declaration that it had finally defeated the Tamil Tiger rebels (LTTE) on the battlefield and killed nearly all their leaders.

Yet the army chief says he wants the army, already 200,000, to increase in size by 50%. [TC] 

Greenland's peaceful passage to independence

The following editorial appeared first in the Boston Globe:

"If it bleeds, it leads," goes the old motto of the news business.

If this rule explains coverage of local crime stories and traffic accidents, it's even more applicable to global conflicts with their origins in old colonial conquests.

Those sad legacies have included bloodbaths in Vietnam, Cambodia, East Timor, Sri Lanka, India-Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran-Iraq, Iraq-Kuwait, Israel-Palestine, Chechnya, Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, and all too many more. [TC]

Tamils "very vulnerable" without political leadership

"Many of the grievances that fueled the conflict have not been met yet, and the question is what incentive does the [Sri Lanka] government have now that they have to reach out and begin reconciliation," said Dr Deepa Ollapally, Deputy Director at the Sigur Center at George Washington to an interview to Foreign Exchange TV, and added that without political leadership Tamils are "very vulnerable." [TC]

Beaches, Palm Trees, Displacement - Welcome to Sri Lanka’s War Zone

by: Christoph Koettl

Amnesty’s Science for Human Rights project just released a satellite image of Menik Farm in Sri Lanka, a de-facto internment camp run by the military, which offers a rare glimpse of the massive displacement caused by the conflict. Mark Cutts, the UN official at Menik Farm, recently told the BBC that “nothing less than a new city had been created.” [TC]

The turn against the ‘rapacious West’ and the re-turn of communalism

by Rajan Philips

The rapacious West” was the epithet Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike flung at the West, feeding off the anti-imperialist fodder of the 1960s. That was during her first stint as PM and she chose the occasion of a State Banquet in Beijing to deliver the insult. [TC]

Responsibility To Protect Does Not Apply in Sri Lanka Situation

by Jorge Heine

Lakshman Kadirgamar, the former Sri Lankan Foreign Minister, was one of the most incisive legal minds of his generation. [TC]

June 19, 2009

June 21-27:

Silent majority must raise their voices loudly and clearly

by Shannie

The tragedy of Sri Lanka has been the growth, since the mid fifties, of ethno-religious nationalism and the consequent destabilisation of our pluralist society. [TC]

Three potential sources of pluralist reform in post war Sri Lanka

By Dayan Jayatilleka

As Paul Berman once wrote, “somewhere in the world it is always 1941”. There comes a time in the life of every society when it is faced with an existential threat or challenge. [TC]

Sinhala and Tamil of people of Sri Lanka: Where do we go from here?

By Niro Dissanayake

All that was predicted and feared/anticipated depending where you are standing has come to pass. The ‘Dutugemunu Principle’ has peaked and the policy of 60 years has come to fruition. The Sinhalese have come a full circle and stand victorious and united with their writ running from North to South, East to West, as was in the time of the great king 2000 years ago. History has repeated itself in eerie fashion. [TC]

Anglican Archbishop bishop urges Canadian government action on Sri Lanka

The head of the Anglican Church of Canada has urged the Canadian prime minister to lead international efforts to protect the civil liberties of Sri Lankans following a government victory over the rebel Tamil Tigers. [TC]

Sri Lanka arrests astrologer over political prediction

The authorities in Sri Lanka have arrested a popular astrologer who predicted that the president will be ejected from office, police say. [TC]

Not a pretty sight: the row over Sri Lanka's camp toilets

by: Amjad Mohamed-Saleem

Ever since the final days of Sri Lanka's offensive against the Tamil Tigers sent hundreds of thousands of people fleeing, aid agencies have been struggling to cope with the needs of the displaced. Add to that the operational restrictions imposed by the authorities, and it has been a challenging environment to work in. [TC]

Sinhalese, Tamils and Sri Lanka: Need for a paradigm shift

by Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

The war between the LTTE and the government of Sri Lanka is over. The pursuit of an independent Tamil Eelam- an illusion- initially floated by the democratic political leadership of the Tamils, thereafter passionately pursued by various militant-terrorist groups, including the LTTE and finally carried forward in a highly organized, but fatally flawed manner by the LTTE, has proved to be just what it was- just an illusion! [TC]

Sri Lankan Media Groups Ask Government Not to Re-establish Powerful Media Council

By Anjana Pasricha

In Sri Lanka, media groups have asked the government to scrap moves to re-establish a media panel which could jail journalists. [TC]

Video: Michael Jackson, 50, Is Dead

Michael Jackson, the singer, songwriter and dancer who earned the title “King of Pop” in a career that reached unprecedented peaks of sales and attention, died Thursday at 1:07 p.m. Pacific time, a Los Angeles city official confirmed. [TC]

Setting up a Sinhala Buddhist Dictatorship Masquerading as Democracy

by Vasantha Raja

Sri Lanka’s present administration is a “dictatorship masquerading as democracy” observed Prof. John Neelsen from the Institute of Sociology in Tuebingen, Germany. [TC]

Why are displaced Wanni civilians being penalised like this?

by Rohini Hensman

Throughout the gruesome finale of the civil war, the government of Sri Lanka claimed to be engaged in the largest hostage rescue mission ever, to release civilians in the Vanni who were being held against their will by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Yet the vast majority of these civilians are still not free. So what exactly has been happening? [TC]

Sri Lankan Tamil detainees give eye-witness accounts

It is now more than one month since the Sri Lankan military detained the final batch of Tamil refugees fleeing the northern war zone on May 19. They joined more than a quarter of a million civilians already incarcerated in camps set up near Vavuniya and on the Jaffna Peninsula during the last phase of the war. About 160,000 people are interned in four units in the biggest camp, known as Manik Farm. [TC]

Turn It Up - Tete-a-Tete:MIA

Maya Arulpragasam is an anomaly in many ways. As M.I.A., she has had a lightning-fast rise. From her early singles “Galang” and “Sun­showers,” which spread virally through the Web in 2004, to her 2005 debut album, Arular (named after her father), and 2007’s Kala (named after her mom), she has garnered nothing but critical acclaim. [TC]

UNSC must help undo some of the damage that its previous inaction helped foster-HRW

The United Nations Security Council should make sure that its existing commitments to protect civilians during armed conflict are actually carried out, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to council member states.

Even though there is no fighting in Sri Lanka's "no fire zone", HRW said: "There is still a need, however, for the council to urgently address the continuing humanitarian and human rights crisis and help undo some of the damage that its previous inaction helped foster. [TC]

"We do everything possible and suitable for Tamils living in Sri Lanka"- Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya

"We are concerned about the Tamils in living in Sri lanka. And not any other organization....and we do everything possible and suitable for Tamils living in Sri Lanka," but "not according to the people outside of Sri Lanka needs," said Sri Lanka's Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya. [TC]

Reconciliation and painful realities on ground

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

A harsh fact of life is the hiatus between rhetoric and reality.

One is starkly reminded of the chasm between promise and performance as we see current developments unfolding. [dbsj]

10th death Anniversary – June 22: Mervyn de Silva and the Lankan condition

by Dayan Jayatilleka

Father’s Day this year falls on the eve of the tenth anniversary of the death of my father, Mervyn de Silva, journalist and editor, literary critic and satirist, broadcaster and commentator on world affairs, or as Godfrey Gunatilleke put it in a sixth anniversary revaluation, “literary critic, intellectual, political analyst and media communicator all in one”.

Sri Lankan Refugees: Time to Honor their Courage, Restore their Rights

by Indira Ravindran

June 20th marks World Refugee Day, and this affords us an opportunity to remember the 80, 000 Sri Lankan Tamils who have sought refuge in Tamilnadu over the past quarter-century. [TC]

Water and sanitation in (post) conflict areas of N-East Sri Lanka

by Herald Vervoorn

Water and sanitation are vital for human health, generates economic benefits, helps the environment and contributes to dignity and social development. [TC]

Waiting for the command to Grieve: Controversy over the death announcement of Prabhakaran

By Naveen Kanapathipillai

Events that happened in the Vanni theatre of war in the middle of the month of May came as a shock for most of the Diaspora Tamils. [TC]

Sri Lanka Tamils' plight compared to Nazi Germany in London Protest

More than 20,000 pro-Tamil protesters swelled the streets of London around Parliament today, Jun 20th as campaigners compared the Tamils' plight in Sri Lanka to Nazi Germany. [TC]

Pro-Tiger diaspora in a post-Prabhakaran scenario

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

A noteworthy feature of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has been the special manner in which it glorifies death and pays homage to dead tiger fighters.

Fallen LTTE members were eulogized as martyrs and referred to as “Maaveerar” or Great heroes.

The departed tigers were buried in cemeteries known as “Maaveerar Mayaanangal” (great hero cemeteries) and memorials called “Maaveerar Thuyilum Illangal” (sleeping abodes of great heroes) were constructed. [dbsj]

June 13, 2009

June 14-20:

The mood in Jaffna is that of being tragically marooned

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

A Christian clergyman who inspired many of us during our student days was the Anglican Bishop of Kurunegala Rt. Rev Lakshman Wickremasinghe.

This eminent theologian known popularly as Bishop Lakshman was a practical man of action when it came to the question of human rights violations and inter-ethnic justice and unity. [DBSJ]

Reconciliation: A Sinhala "middle-class" point of view

By D.B.S. Jeyaraj

Opening up this Blog for people to express their views on national reconciliation, ethnic amity and inter-racial justice seems to have created a vibrant forum.

I am particularly heartened by the positive responses of so many people from different walks in life. [DBSJ]

In Pictures: Displaced Afghans in Khan Colony, Lahor

By Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai

Pakistan has hosted one of the world's largest refugee populations since 1978. Almost two million Afghan refugees remain there according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. [TC]

End of Government Commission on Wartime Abuses Puts Justice at Risk

The Sri Lankan government’s announcement that it was ending its special inquiry into conflict-related abuses underscores the need for an international commission to investigate violations of international law by government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, Human Rights Watch said today. [TC]

PUCL India initiatives on the SL conflict and petition to the UN

Initiatives by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, India, in collaboration with other like minded organisations and civil society personalities, in raising the issue of Human Rights violations in Sri Lanka and also initiating an effort to investigate crimes against humanity and war crimes; [TC]

Channel 4 Video: Fresh claims over Tamil casualties [TC]

International Commission of Jurists urges Sri Lanka to comply with laws and treaties

If Sri Lanka wants to be treated seriously internationally and in the former British Commonwealth. It needs to comply with the laws and treaties.[TC]

Sri Lankan camps breach convention against genocide

The International Commission of Jurists says the conditions there are not the only worry.

Justice Dowd says the purpose of the camps may breach the convention against genocide. [TC]

A Tamil Reflection

by M. Junaid Levesque-Alam

Brintha Jeyalingam is skeptical of the Sri Lankan government's claims and intentions. A 29-year-old American activist with the organization People for Equality and Relief in Sri Lanka (PEARL), her family is of Tamil origin. [TC]

LTTE forming "provisional transnational government" to pursue self-rule for the Tamils

Why international observers are needed in Sri Lanka

by Lorrie Goldstein

Sri Lanka is a sovereign nation. It had the right to bar Liberal MP Bob Rae and Conservative MP Deepak Obhrai, parliamentary secretary for foreign affairs, from entering the country. [TC]

Price of peace for the innocent Tamils

by Dan McDougall

A foul-smelling monsoon closes in from the north, carrying dark clouds of ash from the Hindu funeral pyres burning along the "Highway for Peace and Unity". [TC]

Video: The disappearing act in Sri Lanka

Sharmini Peries speaks to Sunila Abeysekera award-winning human rights defender and the Executive Director of INFORM, an organization working to spread the word on Sri Lankan human rights violations. [TC]

The aftermaths of the war

by Rajan Philips

In the beginning, the Rajapakse government characterized its war against the LTTE as part of the global war on terrorism. In the middle, and muddle, it became the war to liberate the Tamil civilians from the clutches of the LTTE. In the end, the war morphed into a despotic assertion of Sri Lanka’s sovereignty against Western interference. [TC]

Our Post-War Relationship With India Depends on Implementation of 13th Amendment

by Dayan Jayatilleka

The warning about the risk of triumphalism came days before the 65th anniversary celebration of D Day, by the leaders of the US , UK and Franc. [TC]

June 06, 2009

June 7 - 13:

UN "worried" over Govt. plans to replace tents with permanent structures [TC]

End Illegal Detention of Displaced Population - HRW

The Sri Lankan government should end the illegal detention of nearly 300,000 ethnic Tamils displaced by the recently ended conflict in Sri Lanka, Human Rights Watch said today. [TC]

The Wanni IDPs-The path to reconciliation and reintegration

by Nirmala Chandrahasan

Today we are told that there are 300,000 internally displaced persons from what is called the Vanni regions of the Northern Province of Sri Lanka, who are in camps which are surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards. [TC]

LSSP Did Not Promote Separatism-Upali Cooray: a reply to Channa

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

The thoughtful letter on the rise of triumphalism in Sri Lanka written by “podi seeya” Upali Cooray to his grand nephew was posted on this blog under the heading “Chauvinist fever following military defeat of LTTE”. [dbsj]

The uncertain future of Tamils in Sri Lanka

From ~ The Economist Magazine

With the government's defeat of the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE, or Tamil Tigers) and the end of the civil war, attention in Sri Lanka is turning to the future. [TC]

The Globe and Mail: Sri Lanka discredits itself

The decision by Sri Lanka to turn away Liberal Foreign Affairs Critic Bob Rae is more than an insult to a distinguished Canadian who has worked at some personal risk to end violence in that country, but is an affront to Canada itself, a Commonwealth friend that has supported Sri Lankan peace efforts and which in 2006 strengthened the Sri Lankan government's hand by listing, correctly if belatedly, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam as a terrorist organization. [TC]

Toronto Star: "Harper government should pick up where Rae was rebuffed"

Bob Rae is no starry-eyed apologist for Sri Lanka's defeated Tamil Tiger guerrillas. Writing in the Star a few months ago, he described them as "ruthless at killing their opponents," undemocratic, suicide bombers and recruiters of child soldiers. [TC]

Canada rips Sri Lanka for deporting 'security threat' Rae [TC]

CBC Audio: Bob Rae on "As it happens" from London, Heathrow

Sri Lanka is a hot country. The weather's hot. The food's hot. And the country has just seen the bloody end of a terrifyingly hot civil war. But there was no warmth in the reception Bob Rae received when his flight touched down in Colombo yesterday. [TC]

Injustice fuels Sri Lanka's cycle of abuse and impunity

by Amnesty International

Amnesty International has accused the Sri Lankan government of trapping the country in a vicious cycle of abuse and impunity. A new report published on Thursday by the organization details the Sri Lankan government’s failure to deliver justice for serious human rights violations over the past twenty years. [TC]

The task of reconciling a divided people is not insurmountable

by Shanie

After over fifty years of worsening ethnic relations and an insurgency that has lasted for more than half that period, the task of reconciling a divided people is a monumental but not insurmountable one. [TC]

Military Victory over  LTTE Provides Twelve Lessons for Business

By Rohantha Athukorala

In my tenure of fifteen years of business experience in some of the leading multinationals in the world and managing some of the most powerful brands globally like Dettol could not even come close to the excitement that I have experienced in the last 3 years of working in the largest team for the country in its war against the LTTE. [TC]

Grief and despondency in Sri Lanka's camps

Written by: A writer in Sri Lanka

She stood in the door frame of a former clothing factory in northern Sri Lanka. A tiny little woman with long, slightly grey hair pulled back in a ponytail. In her hand she held a small plastic photo album. [TC]

Bob Rae: "If this is how they treat me, imagine how they treat people who can't speak out" [TC]

Bob Rae: "I have flown a very long way only to be told the door is firmly shut."

Sri Lanka on Wednesday, on June 10th deported Bob Rae MP from Colombo. He was briefly detained at the airport.

"The government of Sri Lanka knew my views, and granted me a visa," Rae said in an emailed statement. "I have flown a very long way only to be told the door is firmly shut."

Following is a Recent op-ed by Bob Rae MP: [TC]

Statement of Group of Concerned Tamils of Sri Lanka

We appeal to all concerned to attend to the pressing needs of the time. We appeal to the government of Sri Lanka and all other concerned parties to allay the fears of the Tamil people and to address the dire needs of all those affected by the recent onslaught of war. [TC]

"Api" (us)-"Owun" (them): A pictorial tugging at heartstrings

by. D.B.S. Jeyaraj

Several people both known and unknown have been forwarding a particular e-mail to me the last few days.

It consists of some moving pictorial images contrasting the pathetic existence of internally displaced Tamils on the one hand and the comfortable lifestyle of some Sinhala people on the other. [dbsj]

Can Tamils Seize a new opportunity ?

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

Ajith Ratnarajah is one of the enthusiastic readers of this blog. Apart from posting some pertinent comments under pseudonyms Ajith also sends me e-mails frequently [dbsj]

Chauvinist fever following military defeat of LTTE

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

U.N.Secretary-General Ban Ki moon has warned of the risk of rising triumphalism in Sri Lanka following the military defeat inflicted upon the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) by the Sri Lankan armed forces..

It is quite understandable that people suffering from what they perceived as terrorism would be relieved at the prospect of such acts ceasing and would celebrate what they think is an “end to terrorism”.

At the same time the Rajapakse regime is deriving maximum political mileage out of this victory and is therefore whipping up thinly guised triumphalist fervour to enhance its popularity. [dbsj]

The Ten Great Myths of Modern Sri Lanka

By Satya Sagar

In the ancient Indian epic Ramayana the Aryan Prince Rama goes all the way from north India to vanquish Ravana, the King of Lanka. Following a massive battle in which thousands are slaughtered Rama, with the help of the monkey god Hanuman, finally rescues his kidnapped wife Sita in a grand victory of ‘good' over ‘evil'. [TC]

Media in Sri Lanka: Battered, bruised, cowed and polarised

By Kshama Ranawana

A battered, bruised, cowed and polarized media is all that is left of the profession in Sri Lanka.

That is the result of three years of relentless attacks on reporters and media institutions that dared to uphold professional standards and protect the “publics' right to know”. [TC]